O2 Academy Brixton

211 Stockwell Road,
London, SW9 9SL

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O2 Academy Brixton

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The Astoria Theatre was the first of four Astoria Theatre’s built in the inner London suburbs by independent exhibitor A. Segal. The others being located on Old Kent Road (now demolished), Streatham (now a multiscreen Odeon) and Finsbury Park (now a church).

Located in the southwest London inner-city district of Brixton. This Astoria Theatre was opened on August 19, 1929 with Al Jolson in “The Singing Fool”, and is regarded as the first fully fledged Atmospheric style theatre in Great Britain. This large super-cinema was fully equipped for stage shows on its 40 feet deep stage, as well as films. The interior decorations were carried out by interior designer Marc Henri. There was a Compton 3Manual/12Rank organ which was opened by George Pattman and a cafe/restaurant for the convenience of patrons. An unusual feature was the location of the projection box which was ‘hung’ beneath the circle, giving a straight throw onto the screen.

In December 1930 it was taken over by Paramount Pictures Inc. and they sold their cinemas to the the Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain operated by Oscar Deutsch on 27th November 1939.

In later years it was known as the Odeon Astoria and was closed by the Rank Organisation on 29th July 1972 with “Red Sun” and “The Looking Glass War”.

It was converted into a Sundown discotheque, but this was a short lived (4-months) venture and planning permission was sought to demolish the building, but this was scrapped. The building became a warehouse storing equipment for the Rank Organisation for several years. It was re-opened on 12th March 1982 as a rock concert venue known as the Fair Deal with a concert by UB40, but closed in April 1982 when the operators went bankrupt. It re-opened as the Academy on 7th October 1983 with a concert by the Japanese group Eek-a-Mouse. The plasterwork in the auditorium has been slightly damaged over the years, especially in the early years of its current use as a concert venue when punk concerts were held. The current full capacity is 4,921 as all seating has been removed from the stalls floor. If seating is installed in the stalls the capacity would be 2,391, with 1,083 of these being in the circle. There is standing space for 3,760 in the stalls and 78 in the circle.

The theater became known as the Brixton Academy and was designated a Grade II Listed building on 16th January 1974 and this was upgraded to Grade II* Listed building on 26th March 1990. In 2006 renovation work was carried out to restore the building to its 1929 splendour. In a sponsorship deal with the mobile telephone company O2, it was re-named O2 Academy Brixton from January 2009.

Contributed by Tony Fenton, David Thompson, Ray Martinez, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 31, 2005 at 8:11 am

A recent photograph of the Academy Theatre, Brixton, south London:
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Ian
Ian on May 1, 2006 at 1:51 am

More photos of the Academy here :–

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woody
woody on September 19, 2006 at 4:52 am

The building was open to the public for London open House weekend, here are some shots of the maazing interior
lobby areas
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/246884748/
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follow spot lights
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former projection suite (now VIP bar)
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auditorium
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/246884751/
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exterior 16th sept 2006
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woody
woody on December 4, 2007 at 4:25 pm

more photos night views dec 3 2007 at a CSS gig
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/2087472060/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/2087475938/
lobby
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/2087481152/
auditorium shot of CSS on stage
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/2087489330/
while it looks in great condition in these photos the building is actually in a shockingly poor state, delicate plasterwork and marble are treated with no respect and are in battered condition

andygarner
andygarner on June 17, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Some unusual shots of the Astoria can be seen in the 1970`s film “Eskimo Nell” namely the projection room, managers office, rear circle,stage, and rear fire escape. Shots of the boiler room are featured in “Confessions of a Plumbers Mate” These were all filmed on location whilst the building was closed to the public. Both films turn up on Ebay quite regularly

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Viewed from the balcony during a concert:
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woody
woody on February 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

an odd find in the London Museum, a magazine called The Astorian – the official organ of the Astoria Brixton – the best south-west… Brixton wonder picture theatre!
presumably dating from around the opening
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/5447963081/

cousinadnab
cousinadnab on December 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Unfortunately, the Brixton Academy has recently suffered some damage from a fire. But not to sure how mucg damage. See the BBC report about the fire: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16325908

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